Literacy Tips

Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of April 15th

posted Apr 15, 2018, 5:48 PM by Courtney Richardson

2018 Guided Reading Goes Global

“Ma, can I have a lesson, can I have a lesson?” Those are words Tina Gibbs, missionary with GECHAAN ministries in Gembu, Nigeria hears frequently from the children coming to the gate at her compound. Gembu is a very remote town on the Mambilla Plateau in southeastern Nigeria. There is no running water or electricity. Most buildings are made of mud bricks and many people make their living by farming the dry, harsh land. 
Originally, Tina began using Literacy Footprints, the guided reading support kit developed by Jan Richardson and Michele Dufresne, to teach young adults in a technical training program run by GECHAAN. Tina knew there was a great deal of illiteracy in the community since the government has no formal curriculum. There are no textbooks or resource materials and most instructors in the remote areas do not have a degree in education. Still, she was shocked to learn that out of the 65 applicants screened for admission to the training program, not even 15 could read above a first-grade level. Tina needed more than the random worksheets she downloaded off the Internet to meet the needs of these students. When friends in the U.S. suggested Literacy Footprints, Tina knew she had found the right tool. Pioneer Valley Books generously donated a Literacy Footprints Kit for Tina to use. With the guidance of a friend, Tina spent a week observing and learning how to do assessments, use the lesson cards, and teach lessons. By the end of the week she could already see reluctant, self-conscious readers becoming excited, confident, risk takers who couldn’t wait for their next lesson.
A year later, Tina has expanded her reach into the community. She now teaches nine lessons a day, five days a week to community members ages 5- 65. Tina calls the fact that most of the lesson planning is done for her, "...a gift." In addition, Tina uses Literacy Footprints material to extend student learning. The nonfiction books become a platform for science and social studies lessons. Students learn about both their world and the world beyond the village. After reading about plants, for instance, the students can label the parts of the plants growing around them. The landform book helps students identify features of the desert, mountains, and the plateau in their country. Students discover places they never knew existed like Switzerland, comparing and contrasting those places to their homeland. Resources such as the word study cards and magnetic letters have proven to be effective tools for teaching multiple foundational skills including rhyming and oral language.
Literacy Footprints has opened the door to literacy for many in Gembu, but perhaps even greater, is the impact it has had on the self-esteem of the students. Prime examples of this are the cleaning ladies that work on the compound. At 65 years old, Nicoleen never dreamed she would become a reader, much less a teacher! She and four other women are teaching their grandchildren to read. Tina notes that now the women come to work in dresses, with their hair done, a touch of makeup applied, and standing tall. If you ask the women, they will tell you that their greatest joy is to finally be able to read their Bibles! Guided reading is truly enriching the lives of readers young and old around the globe.

Written by: Bonnie Porter

Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of April 8th

posted Apr 8, 2018, 5:23 PM by Courtney Richardson

Steps for Making a Big Word

I’ve received several questions about the word study activity, Making a Big Word. I don’t want there to be any confusion about this powerful procedure. Making a Big Word is NOT about teaching a specific word; it’s about teaching children how to hear and see parts in words. 
Steps to Making a Big Word:
1. Choose a multisyllabic word from the story that has easy to hear sounds and a phonetic element they need to learn (e.g. dangerous, reliable, discourage, disgusted, captured, duration, etc.). To make the task easier to manage, I try to select a word that doesn’t have too many duplicate letters.  
2. Give students a tray of magnetic letters and tell them which letters to remove from the tray. I say the letters in alphabetic order so that it is easier for them to find the letters on the tray AND so they don't remove the letters in the order they appear in the word. Distribute any duplicate letters.
3. You say the word. Have students repeat the word while they clap each part (dan-ger-ous).
4. Students use the magnet letters to make the word. Scaffold individuals as needed.
5. Once the students have made the word correctly, tell them to say it again and break the letters apart. They break the word into the audible parts, not necessarily according to syllabic rules.
6. Students make the word once more. If there is time, have them repeat the process. 

We are taking a break from Literacy Tips this week.

posted Apr 1, 2018, 11:17 AM by Courtney Richardson

Have a Happy Easter and a relaxing spring break!

Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of March 25th

posted Mar 28, 2018, 3:54 PM by Courtney Richardson   [ updated Mar 28, 2018, 3:54 PM ]

Using Sound Boxes During Word Study

Check out my latest video on Facebook. This time, I’m sharing methods for using sound boxes to help students learn how words work.
Written by: Michele Dufresne, author Pioneer Valley Educational Press

Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of March 18th

posted Mar 18, 2018, 2:06 PM by Courtney Richardson   [ updated Mar 28, 2018, 4:00 PM ]

Guided Writing Booklet 

We created a book from Dr. Richardson's guided writing webinar. Each page of the book has a summary statement of expectations for guided writing at a particular level. Target skills and strategies for that level are bulleted below the summary statement.  

Teachers can use this book at the table for guided instruction to maintain a focus for teaching points and conferring during guided writing instruction. For example, if a teacher is instructing students at a level D, s/he might choose for a student to reread each sentence with the eraser side of a pencil so that the student can monitor for meaning by making sure all words are included. Another student may need to work on adding endings to words. A specific student goal can be put on a post-it note and placed on a student's practice page as a reminder.
Teachers can also use the list of target skills and strategies to determine a teaching point that may be generative for the whole group. For example, when students are completing guided writing for the day, a teacher may have students go back and check their writing to see that each sentence starts with a capital letter.
Finally, teachers can use the list as a reflection tool. If all students control most of the skills and strategies at this level, the teacher may feel confident in moving the students to the next level.
Since the book has a page for each level Pre A-J+, teachers can use it as a reference for teaching and reflecting across many levels of guided instruction and groups they see each day. *Booklet is attached below.  

Written by: Jill Floodstrom, Teaching and Learning Coordinator, Reading Recovery Teacher Leader, Nationally Board Certified Teacher, Champaign Unit 4 Schools, Champaign, IL

Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of March 11th

posted Mar 13, 2018, 6:48 AM by Courtney Richardson

Research for the Four Steps for Teaching a Sight Word

I was recently asked this question: “Is there any research for the particular way
you teach sight words?” The procedures for teaching a sight word are grounded in
the work of Marie Clay and Grace Fernaldt and my years of personal research and
experience. I experimented with many procedures before I settled on the Four
Steps, and I have found them to be efficient and effective. 
Some children develop a haphazard way of attending to print that can interfere
with their developing a system of remembering and retrieving words. The Four
Steps help children build a memory trace. The first procedure, What's Missing?,
teaches children to study the word in detail, left to right. Mix and fix uses a
kinesthetic-tactile approach by having children construct the word out of magnetic
letters. Tracing on the table again engages tactile learning, and Write and Retrieve
helps children build automaticity with writing and remembering the word. The Four
Steps should be done in sequence because they utilize a gradual-release model of
learning. Watch me teach the sight word said using these four steps:

Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of March 4th

posted Mar 4, 2018, 11:58 AM by Courtney Richardson

Should we put text levels on classroom library books?

I mentioned last week that I don’t think a child’s reading level should be on a report card. I don’t think the reading level should be on classroom library books either. Picture books and novels aren’t written to match a specific text level. Picture books may look easy, but they often have challenging vocabulary. Leveling systems, including Lexile and readability formulas such as the Flesh-Kincaide, are not valid measures of a text. Text difficulty cannot be measured solely by how many words are in a sentence or how many multi-syllable words are in a passage. The difficulty of the text might arise from an unfamiliar topic, advanced sentence structure, or challenging vocabulary. I like to organize classroom libraries around topics, genres and author studies. That way, children can easily find books that match their interests. Teach children how to choose books that are appropriate for them to read.

Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of February 25th

posted Feb 25, 2018, 7:10 PM by Courtney Richardson   [ updated Feb 25, 2018, 7:11 PM ]

Helping Students Who Have Trouble Tracking 

Hello everyone! I hope you enjoyed my January video tip about when to encourage students to use their reading finger and when to have them stop. This month, I’m following up on that post with another video blog. I’m sharing my thoughts about students who have difficulty tracking and the best ways to support them.

Written by: Michele Dufresne, author Pioneer Valley Educational Press

Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of February 18th

posted Feb 19, 2018, 11:02 AM by Courtney Richardson

Is the “Next Steps” lesson a formula or a framework? 

A teacher asked me if my lesson plans were a formula she must follow with fidelity or a framework she can tweak. My lesson plans are a framework – but the components of the lesson should be delivered with fidelity. In other words, every guided reading lesson should integrate reading, writing, and word study. Within the structure of the lesson, however, teachers need to make decisions based on formative assessments and observations. The decisions include forming groups, pinpointing a focus, selecting a text, planning the introduction, prompting during reading, teaching after reading, choosing the word study activity, and planning the guided writing response. 

Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of February 11th

posted Feb 11, 2018, 8:05 PM by Courtney Richardson   [ updated Feb 11, 2018, 8:11 PM ]

Adapting the Next Steps Lesson framework for teaching in Spanish

In the San Jose Unified School District, we have successfully developed and implemented “Jan Plans” for teaching in Spanish. When we began this endeavor, we considered how learning to read in Spanish is different from learning to read in English. In Spanish, because our language is phonetic, we focus on learning the letter sounds before the letter names. We also introduce the vowel sounds first so that each time we introduce a consonant sound, we can immediately attach it to a vowel and teach a syllable like “ma” or “ca.” Students can quickly begin learning to read and write letters from there. As a result, the lesson plan templates (available on the Resources page) include the following modifications:
  • The focus during the “Working with Letters” component of the lesson is on learning letter sounds. (A list of “Actividades para trabajar con letras” is available at link above.)
  • During “Working with Books,” the concept of a syllable is listed as a possible teaching point after shared reading.
  • Students are moved to the emergent stage once they know 40 letter “sounds” (versus “letters” in English)
  • When students read the book with prompting, one of the prompts to support monitoring and word solving is “Vuelve a leer la oración y has la primer sílaba” or “Reread the sentence and say the first syllable.”
  • During “Word Study” teachers can engage students in “making words” with a focus on listening for syllables (“formar palabras con sílabas”). For “sound boxes” the focus is on listening for individual syllables (in a multi-syllable word) and writing a syllable in each box (“cajas de sílabas”).
  • When the students read, the teacher might use prompts to support word-solving like: 
    - Revisa la sílaba inicial /media/final de la palabra. (Check the                                   beginning/middle/final syllables in the word.)
    - Segmenta la palabra por sílabas. (Segment the word by syllables.)
    - Encuentra las partes o sílabas que conoces. (Look for the parts or syllables that you know.) 
  • Similar to the emergent stage word study, early stage learners make words with a focus on syllables and use “syllable boxes” instead of sound boxes. At this stage, more complex types of syllables are introduced as well.

Written by: ​Zoila Esquivel Moreno, the District English Learner Instructional Coach in San Jose Unified School District​​

1-10 of 138